LEWISTON — The sixth annual International Fire, Police and Military Winter Games was held over the weekend at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, with the Lewiston Police Department competing against the Canada Firefighters for the gold medal.

The hockey tournament ended Sunday afternoon with Canada winning 6-3, taking home the gold in the Division A championship game. The Lewiston Police Department put up a good fight and had a lot of supporters in the crowd.

The Winter Games, created and organized by Brenda Espinoza, is a charity fundraiser for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston. This year, the tournament raised $10,000, doubling the amount raised last year. 

“One hundred percent of the money we raise goes to the Shriners Fund,” Espinoza said.

She said the fundraiser originally brought in $2,500 dollars, then local businessman Paul Bernier, owner of United Sports Antique & Vintage Snowmobile Museum in Turner, stepped in and donated $7,500.

“He wanted to make it an even $10,000,” she said.

“I have a wonderful committee,” Espinoza added. “A tremendous volunteer group this year for everything to go as smooth as it did.”

This year’s tournament had 22 hockey teams competing, including fire departments, police departments and military groups from around Maine and Canada.

Old Colony Fire and Police took home the gold in Division B, winning 5-3 against the Maine Army National Guard.

Fallon Ambulance took home the bronze in Division A, winning 3-2 against Maine Air National Guard A, and Belchertown Fire Department took the bronze in Division B, winning 4-1 against Maine Air National Guard B.

The Winter Games also hosted several entertainers, including the Bates College Deansmen, a capella group and the Kora Highlanders, who played their pipes. 

Crystal Ryder from the U.S. Army sang the national anthem. 

Melissa Weaver was at the final game with her three kids to support her husband, Charlie Weaver, on the Lewiston Police Department team.

“He’s played hockey all his life,” she said. “He’s been at LPD for about six years, and has participated every year since then.” 

Weaver said it was exciting to be at the championship game, especially because it was the first time she could bring the boys.

“Everyone is very supportive, and it seems like a very close team,” she said.

The local Kora Shriners came out to support the event and expressed appreciation of Espinoza’s efforts to raise money for Shriner hospitals. 

Brian Robbins of the Kora Shriners said, “We come out to support her because she supports us.” 

Robbins said being a Shriner is all about being in a fellowship, with a lot of good time, while helping children.

“All care is free,” Robbins said. “Any child who needs it, we’ll take care of.”

Robbins added that the Winter Games has grown bigger every year, and that it’s doubled its fundraising since last year.

“We’re supporting it as much as we can to help it grow,” he said.

Robbins explained that a team from New Jersey stopped by the Shriners Hospital for Children in Boston on their way to Lewiston to give teddy bears to the children.

“All the teams, they know what the money is going to,” he said.


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